I grew up on a 250 acre ranch that had been in my family for more than 50 years. Unlike the typical cattle ranch, this property sat along the coastline where the river that separated my house from my grandparents’ flowed into the Pacific Ocean. On the evenings that offered breathtaking sunsets, our family would sit on the deck and talk about our day as lambs jumped around in the background and the sun disappeared into the sea.
Growing up in an environment like this was something my brother and I often took for granted. We loved having the opportunity to ride our quads in the fields, walk across the private path we had to the beach where we learned how to fly fish, and with just a quick run up the hill we could go to grandma’s house for dinner when our parents didn’t feel like cooking that night. We loved being spoiled with the amenities of ranch life, but, at an early age, we learned the responsibilities of it as well.
In the third grade I bottle fed a calf, who I proudly named Daisy, who was abandoned by her mother shortly after her birth. Every morning before school, and every evening after, I would take the bottle down to her pin and sit with her until it was finished. And as I walked around the yard she would follow me thinking I was her mother. For a third grader, that’s a very exciting feeling.
As my brother and I grew older, the ranch became less of our focus. Although it still required as much work as before, we began to drift away. We eagerly awaited the day when we would leave our small town, but always cherished the one when we would return to our ranch on the coast.
That is until we no longer could.
Photo credit: Madison Fraser
My dad worked two full time jobs and never had any help on the ranch. Eventually the work became too much for him to do on his own with my brother and I away at school. I knew his and my grandparents’ wish was to pass the ranch down to one of his children. However, neither of us was at the point in our lives where we were willing to put off getting an education and pursuing our own careers. My parents decided last fall that it was time to put the land, and our homes that sat on it, up for sale. And this summer it actually sold.
I consider myself so lucky to have been raised in the same home my father grew up in and played in the same fields and barns he did as a child. It was a rare experience my brother and I shared, and , unfortunately, my own children won’t have it.
I don’t think anyone really expected, or hoped, for that matter, that the property would sell at all, let alone so quickly. While it was the right thing to do, it’s hard to believe that my home is no longer my home.
My parents have since relocated to a smaller home in a nearby subdivision. Mom complains that not everything fits in the new house, and dad complains that there are too many neighbors. While it appears we are still blessed with stunning ocean views, I have yet to actually see our new home, besides what they show me during FaceTime. Our two dogs, that once never knew the boundaries of a fenced yard, now spend their days moving from the garage to a small pin in the backyard.
Soon I will be making the first trip back since being away at school this year and I’m surprisingly nervous. I didn’t think much of anything when I left for school in August. Too excited about coming to a new school in a new state, I never took the opportunity to enjoy the last time I would drive out of my driveway. Or the last time I would hang laundry on the clothesline in my grandma’s rose garden.
I’m not sure what it will feel like to come home to a new house. Especially when getting to the new house requires me to drive past the old one and see all the changes the new owners have made. It’s saddening to think of a stranger tearing down buildings that my grandfather built 50 years ago just because they’re starting to age, or seeing unfamiliar cars in the driveway where my car is supposed to sit.
While I can’t imagine what the first drive by will feel like, I do know that everything happens for a reason, and this was the right decision for my family. I may be missing out on sunsets from that deck, but I get to experience them from a new view with the family that will make any house feel like home.